Home>Articles>Embattled LA City Councilman Kevin de Leon Attends First City Council Meeting Following Racist Recording Scandal

Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Embattled LA City Councilman Kevin de Leon Attends First City Council Meeting Following Racist Recording Scandal

De Leon lasted twenty minutes in Chamber before protests forcced him to leave

By Evan Symon, December 10, 2022 2:30 am

A Los Angeles City Council Meeting erupted into chaos on Friday following the entrance of City Councilman Kevin de Leon, who has faced mass protests against him since October over his role in the racist recording scandal.

De Leon has largely avoided the public eye since early October, when the scandal first broke. De Leon, along with then-City President Nury Martinez, Councilman Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, were found to have made multiple racist and racial comments earlier this month following an audio leak of the four talking during a district realigning meeting last year. While many things were said, the most controversial part was when they began discussing a fellow Councilman who is white and openly gay, Mike Bonin. Specifically they talked about his black child and a picture with Bonin and his family in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade.

“Bonin thinks he’s f—ing black,” said Martinez in the audio, pointing out the picture. “He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory. They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”

Martinez then proceeded to use slurs against the eight-year-old child, saying in Spanish “Parece changuito” or in English, “He’s like a monkey.” Councilman de Leon then added, “Bonin handles the toddler like when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag. Su negrito, like on the side.”

In addition to the racist words, the four were also heard plotting to reorganize Council lines to decrease the power of black Councilmembers and others in the city.

In the ensuing weeks, all four made multiple apologies, both Martinez and Herrera resigned, and calls for both de Leon and Cedillo to resign have come from the majority of Angelinos, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Governor Gavin Newsom, and President Joe Biden. Protests have also been constant against both de Leon and Cedillo, with protestors even appearing outside de Leon’s house non-stop. While Cedillo opted to just ride out the rest of his tenure, as he had been voted out in June and was just holding on for the rest of his tenure until this month de Leon adamantly refused to resign in the few press events he had.

In recent weeks, de Leon had been making more public appearances, including in participating in several holiday charity drives. However, de Leon is also now facing a possible recall election as well, with a recall petition signature effort currently underway in his district. Faced with possible removal, and needing to attend City Council meetings to keep his position through the end of his term in 2024, de Leon attended his first Council meeting in two months on Friday.

Around 11 A.M., de Leon entered the Council chambers flanked by several supporters, saying that he was there to represent monolingual residents. However, his support was quickly overrun by three councilmembers, including Bonin, leaving the meeting in protest, as well as a large number of protestors against de Leon swelling the chambers. After several minutes of growing chaos, Council President Paul Krekorian called a recess. An LA Times reporter there showed the chaos through Twitter.

KDL causes mass chaos after only 20 minutes in City Hall

De Leon promptly left, having been in and out of the City Hall in about twenty minutes, leaving in his wake dozens of angry protestors, two protestors being escorted out by police, and LAPD officers in helmets descending into the hall to keep order.

“I remained out of the room after the outburst by agitators to give the council president the opportunity to regain control of the meeting and allow public comment to continue since so many of those present were my constituents,” said de Leon on Friday. “Unfortunately, neither of those things happened.”

In a later statement, he also added that “After spending time reflecting with my constituents and those outside my district, today I returned to City Council today. Many Spanish-speaking residents reached out to me yesterday about their inability to be heard during a committee meeting on an item critical to Council District 14. I have returned to assure them that I will fight to protect our district and their voices. Unfortunately, agitators continued to disrupt the meeting and prevented scores of my constituents from being able to give public comment because disruptors were allowed to stay and were not removed. I will continue to defend my constituents and improve the quality of life for the communities I serve despite the lack of control in the Council.”

By the time the meeting resumed later in the day, de Leon was long gone. Bonin, a central victim in the scandal, said that the disruptions were ‘bad’ in a speech to the Council, but also stated again that de LEon needed to resign to end the protests and constant disruptions everywhere he went.

“The problem was on those tapes,” said Councilman Bonin. “The problem is in this room. The problem is somebody’s ego refuses to get out of the way of his need to resign. The road to redemption begins with resignation, and that will end the protests.”

After the meeting, Krekorian further noted that he had asked de Leon to leave the Chamber due to both the chaos he caused, as well as the walkouts by the three Councilmembers causing a loss of quorum in the Council.

“De Leon’s arrival had created a potentially dangerous situation in the audience,” said Krekorian. “We had obviously a very strong emotional reaction from people in the crowd who were confronting one another.”

Maria Costa, a Los Angeles pollster who focuses on Latino communities, told the Globe in an interview on Friday that continued protests after two months was rare, and that de Leon’s effort of a comeback on Friday was severely damaged as a result of having to flee the meeting.

“You can say how much he has helped Latino people of the city all you want. You can point out all the good he did. But he squandered all of that with those comments he made in October, and as we saw today, no one has forgotten it. This is his political legacy now. This is how he’ll be remembered. And as pretty much everyone has said, he needs to resign to really have everyone move on. But he’s not. We’ve talked with some residents, and while he does have some support, many Latinos there have called him a child for what he has been doing post-scandal. He’s not doing the right thing.”

It is currently unknown if he will attend the next Council meeting on Tuesday.

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8 thoughts on “Embattled LA City Councilman Kevin de Leon Attends First City Council Meeting Following Racist Recording Scandal

    1. Actually, this story refers to Kevin Leon. He never changed his legal name to “de Leon”. It’s the stage name for the drama queen that he has become.

  1. The incident below, which happened in the midst of a community toy giveaway and tree-lighting ceremony, took place just hours after Leon returned to L.A. City Council after a long absence and tried to take his seat, but was removed after he was met with “jeers and protests.”
    “Kevin de Leon involved in fight at holiday event in Lincoln Heights”

  2. Dude couldn’t recite the Pledge Of Allegiance to save his life, but he can start a rumble at a kiddy toy event.

  3. Leon has bern a FAILURE at every political position he has held….
    He holds himself out to be some mythical “Zorro”, advocating for the “disenfranchised” Latino communities (many of whom are ILLEGAL ALIENS, but I digress), but his “hot mic” moment proves that he’s just another charlatan grifter racist a-hole, looking to further his political and personal fortunes…
    Just go away, Kevin…

  4. Kevin DeLeon is a one-trick pony political animal. He has no other career nor body of skills. He desperately needs cling to this current job.

    Not even sure he is useful for the preferred soft landing for fading polticos; some union management slot. Of course the real story rests with learning who made, and then leaked this tape.

    I would suspect this is someone who wanted to take down any or all of the players. But who had such inside access to the unions very closed system fraternity? Some sort of “mean girls” sandbox turf war fight perhaps. How far will they go making sure no one ever finds out.

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